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Rapporteur proposes fresh approach to involuntary measures in psychiatry

The best way to protect the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities with regard to involuntary measures in psychiatry is to "avoid such measures in the first place by ensuring these persons’ access to a range of support services, so that they can live independently, be included in the community, exercise their autonomy, participate meaningfully in, and decide upon all matters affecting them," PACE rapporteur Reina de Bruijn-Wezeman (Netherlands, ALDE) has said.

In a revised introductory memorandum made public yesterday, focusing on a new protocol to the Oviedo Convention currently being drafted by Council of Europe experts, the rapporteur said it was important to focus on "reflecting how States can avoid coercion in psychiatry".

She added: “This is a challenging process that will take time. It requires combating stereotypes and a change of mind-set for our societies, where there is still a common misperception that psychiatric patients are inherently dangerous.”

A public hearing earlier this week, organised jointly by the Assembly’s Social Affairs and Equality Committees, brought together leading figures in the field from the UN and Council of Europe to discuss the issue.